Working well with other leaders and staff members is essential for ministry success. Having worked with paid church staff for over 20 years, I believe that this is more challenging than working with church members or volunteers. In fact, I think it’s generally easier to pastor 100 people alone than 200 people with a team. Because of this, some churches avoid hiring staff. I have friends who purposely keep their ministry small and manageable. I disagree with this approach and believe the benefits of working with staff far outweigh the challenges. On the contrary, I know a few smaller church leaders who can’t wait for the day when they have staff – so their jobs won’t be so hard. You, my friend, are mistaken.
Church staff relationships are tricky, to say the least. We must figure this out because if the staff is broken, the church is broken.
Here are some of the greatest threats to healthy church staff relationships:
- Jealousy of the success of others (this reveals spiritual immaturity and insecurities).
- Sharing limited resources (there is only so much money and volunteers to go around). Staff members sometimes fight over support.
- Undermining others in an effort to look better. We must realize that, as a team, when one of us wins, we all win and when one of us loses, we all lose.
- Ministry silos. Tony Morgan writes about how some church staff members divide and are only concerned about their specific ministry. http://tonymorganlive.com/2014/04/23/ministry-silos-leadership/
- Lack of loyalty to the mission and vision of the church/senior leader. Some staff members have secret ambitions to take their boss’ job.
So, how do we prevent these threats from doing irreparable damage to our church staff?
- Hire spiritually mature people. Regardless of one’s ability, if there is a weakness in one’s spirituality, it will reveal itself in a church staff setting.
- Create open and honest communication among the staff. Freedom to address perceived issues will allow a staff to address problems as they arise, rather than allowing them to build up over time.
- The primary leader must stay personally engaged with the staff. While another staff member may be the first point of contact on a larger staff, the leader must be accessible and in relationship with team members.
- Personal as well as professional relationships must be intentionally developed. A staff that dislikes one another outside of church will dislike one another inside of the church.
- Staff prayer is vitally important. This prayer should be scheduled, frequent and treated as a priority.
- Required reading. The staff should read and discuss current leadership development materials.The church staff should celebrate individual victories as a team and mourn individual losses as a team.
These are just a few ideas on how we may prevent threats to the church staff from destroying the staff (and church). I’d be interested to hear your ideas. Healthy church staffs result in healthy churches. And God wants a healthy Church!